Saturday, August 1, 2009

Last Argument of Kings

Right now I've only read one book that I haven't given at least the mini-review treatment - Last Argument of Kings, the conclusion to Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Since I read it about a month and a half ago now, I'm not going to review it. I put that one to the back of the review queue when I was busy with wedding planning then getting caught up once that was over, figuring the world didn't really need yet another review of this novel (as you'll see if you scroll down to the links below) and that anybody who had read the first two probably had a pretty good idea of whether or not they wanted to read the final volume in the series (which should definitely be read before this book, starting with The Blade Itself and followed by Before They Are Hanged). Plus I'm a little over halfway through Abercrombie's latest novel, Best Served Cold, right now and will most likely be discussing it in relation to the series in that review.

So I'm just going to say a little bit about the series in general and link to some of the aforementioned numerous reviews for anyone who does indeed want to read a review of Last Argument of Kings.

The First Law trilogy is a partially serious, partially humorous epic fantasy series in the tradition of the trend toward "gritty" fantasy. (Yes, I used that word. Oh well, I'm straying from my review rules in this and just saying whatever comes to mind and not rereading it 100 times and revising it. Note: Haha, that was funny of me as I am writing this sentence after reading it for about the tenth time.)

On the outside, it may seem a little bit like stock fantasy but what sets it apart is the way in which it is told, although I still wouldn't say it's one of the best fantasy series I've ever read. It's full of dark humor and is very readable. For the first part of each book, it didn't seem like a lot was happening plot-wise, but the characters themselves and their cynical observations kept me reading. The part I really enjoyed in the latter part of the series is the way the author started out with a fairly standard predictable, fantasy plot and then took it in a different direction.

Although I found these fun to read, they are not for everyone - especially those who prefer to stay away from books with violence, bad language, and sexual content. I also would not recommend them to people who enjoy likable characters who tend to do the right thing. If you are looking to read uplifting stories about heroics, nobility, and the goodness of human nature, these are not for you, and the final volume is the most depressing of the three.

Now I need to get back to reading Best Served Cold so I can review that one soon. I was hoping to have it finished by Wednesday (the US release date) but that didn't happen so I'm hoping to finish it this weekend instead. If only I could read faster... Now, for the promised links of actual reviews of Last Argument of Kings (conveniently found on the review index on Fantasy Book News & Reviews, with the exception of Jeff's own review):


orannia said...

I also would not recommend them to people who enjoy likable characters who tend to do the right thing.

Well, since I'm madly in love with Felix, who is by no means a likeable character for most readers, nor does he do the right thing, this sounds right up my alley *grin*

Thank you Kristen! I will...investigate :)

Jeff C said...

thanks for the mention, Kristen! Someone else told me I should add my reviews to the index. Maybe if I liked my reviews more I would do that :)

Kristen said...

Orannia - This series is very different from Monette's books, although it does have the cast of not-very-nice characters. I liked it, but it wasn't anything near the level of The Doctrine of Labyrinth (but then, that's one of my two favorite series so most books are not as good as that one as far as I'm concerned). The First Law is more darkly humorous and it has a wide cast of characters, none of which have anywhere near the depth of Felix or Mildmay.

Jeff - You should add your reviews to the index! I think they are very helpful reviews.

orannia said...

Thank you Kristen. The Doctrine of Labyrinths is just....*SIGH*...amazing :)

Kristen said...

Orannia - It is! Sometime after you read that, I hope you read Wraeththu. That's my other favorite series and it also has some very memorable characters.

orannia said...

Sometime after you read that, I hope you read Wraeththu.

The first book (whose name eludes me) is on my list but my library don't have it :( I'm either going to have to go secondhand book hunting here or buy it online.

orannia said...

Actually, I think I just will *grin*

Kristen said...

Orannia - The first book is called The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit. The original version is out of print, although there is a revised version that is more expensive. However, there is an omnibus edition of the original trilogy just called Wraeththu that is still in print (this is the version I have). Perhaps your library would have that version instead. In any case, good luck finding a copy!